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2,579 Singles Cruise Reviews

We sailed on NCL Bliss on 14-day Western Caribbean cruises out of NYC so on Feb 2, 2020s. The ship visited Cape Canaveral. Great Stirrup Bay in Bahamas, Ochorios in Jamaica, George Town in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, Maya coast and ... Read More
We sailed on NCL Bliss on 14-day Western Caribbean cruises out of NYC so on Feb 2, 2020s. The ship visited Cape Canaveral. Great Stirrup Bay in Bahamas, Ochorios in Jamaica, George Town in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, Maya coast and Cozumel Mexico. Great cruise and good staff. We had a standard balcony cabin 12722 on deck 12 with plenty of room for the two of us. Nice ship with lots specialty restaurants good. Buffet was great - better quality food than the general dining (hotter, more variety, very nicely prepared and presented. The only 'complaint' is that there is too much salt added to food throughout. We don't use salt at home, so really notice it We didn't participate in any of the 'activities' like bingo or quiz shows but they had some good entertainment. the 'Beatles' group was standing room only at every show - they needed a bigger venue! They had a rock/pop band who did a good job, and the 'Jersey Boys' was a great performance. Six Boleyn was also good musical described life of King Henry VIII through his 6 wives. There was live music in moist lounges (District Brew House, Mojito bar, atrium and observation lounge). The observation lounge was a great place to get a comfy chair and snack, I spent my days there reading the book, “SEA OF POPPIES” by Amitav Ghosh describing the story of Opium production and trade by the British India company. ON 2nd day Sea day we had cruise critic meet and Greet met the GM of the ship. Sharon complained about lack of body lotion in the bathroom. He took our cabin number and instructed our room attended to supply steady supply of Bulgari body lotion. Afterwards I mentioned him today is Sharon’s birthday. After we came back from lunch our cabin was decorated with Happy birthday sign, Streamers and balloons. He also sent some specialty Chocolate, a bottle of wine. Sharon, her cousin and Aunt enjoyed the wine. I was not happy with luncheon menu at the main dining room. I complained to the Maître Dee. He said I should eat at taste of India. I looked up the Executive Chef Sreekanth Sundram and spoke to him. He informed me Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available for vegetarians at the” Taste of India”. Next morning to my surprise I had an excellent breakfast with Vada, Uthappam, Sambar, Chutney, poori, Potato, with Masala Chai. I also met Rohith Gokulakrishnan Executive Sous Chef from Chennai, Chef Balappan. Everyday I had a feast for breakfast, lunch and dinner We went on Shore excursion on Airboat and crocodile farm in Florida, tour of countryside of Jamaica, Roatan tour to see mangrove reserve, shipwreck and to a beach to watch a local show. Next day we visited the Maya ruins and spice farm in Belize. 9th we visited Mayan coast to see Mayan temple. At Cozumel we visited Mayan Chocolate Farms to learn about history of Chocolates use by Mayans and how Spaniards modified to fit the western taste. Then we visited Mayan Honeybee farm amid the forest. I learned there is no pure Mayan blood descendant, most of them descent of Mayan and Spanish descendants, the last Mayan died in 1850 Overall this cruise is excellent on a new ship with 4,000 capacity. May be less than 10% were people under 40 years old. Most of the guests were seniors, some on walking with Canes, others cruising around on their scooters which took most of the space on the elevators. We were on Deck 12. Most of the entertainments and dining rooms are on Deck 6-8. The Garden Café is deck 16 and lounge is on Deck 15. It is really a struggle to get into the elevators during breakfast, lunch and dinner time. There are 16 elevators for 4,000 peoples which is a handicap. Sometimes I used stairs with huffing and puffing. WE returned on Sunday the 16th after dropping Sharon’s aunt and cousin at the airport for their onward journey to the frozen tundra of Saskatchewan Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I planned my Australia and New Zealand vacation with Princess Cruises so I could see the most I could within the 24 Days I had down-under. I did this even though Princess Cruises does not have a single supplement so I paid suite passage ... Read More
I planned my Australia and New Zealand vacation with Princess Cruises so I could see the most I could within the 24 Days I had down-under. I did this even though Princess Cruises does not have a single supplement so I paid suite passage for two people. Princess Cruises was the only cruise line that offered the land tour. Since this was my first trip to the region I wanted to see as much of Australia and New Zealand as I could. The vacation started with a tour that took me from Sydney to Uluru then to Carins and back to Sydney before boarding the Princess Cruise ship the Ruby Princess for a 12 day cruise around New Zealand. I planned to complete my trip with two days in Sydney after the cruise. Mistake number one was thinking Princess Cruises would delivery on their commitments and provide assistance and keep me informed. Princess Cruises did however meet their cruise contract terms. However, this does not mean they were at all worried about me enjoying my vacation. I do want to say the Uluru and Cairns tour operated by a local Australian tour company was just wonderful. This might have set my expectations for the cruise. The three hotels we stayed in during the land tour was great the Hyatt Regency is in Darling Harbor and a short walking distance to the Opera House and Botanical Gardens. Just plan plenty of time if you walk (30 minutes each way) however it is easy to get around Sydney. The Airport Transfers contacted by this tour operator were handled very well with no issues. The Desert Garden Hotel in Uluru is the place to stay when traveling there. The two days were will planned the highlight was the aboriginal demonstration and program put on by a local group the Red Spaces Cultural Tours (I will do a separate review of this fantastic program). After the visit and this program, you leave Uluru with a greater appreciation of the Australian aboriginal people and importance the mountain was to their life in the outback. Off to Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef and Kuranda Rain Forest. While the tour provided a great experience in Cairns for the short two days we were there, you will want to plan more time. The rain forest has many trails you can explore and we just did not have the time. The land tour ended with a quick overview of Sydney and stop at Bondi Beach. I will do a separate review of the tour as this rating is not a reflection of that experience. This is where a good vacation experience ended and dealing with rude and unresponsive cruise ship staff begin. The written instructions/directions that are provided mean nothing it seems the Ruby Princess is an exception as explained to me by a Guess Services staff member assigned to address my concerns. My first encounter with a staff member at the coffee set the tone of the trip. I asked him if he could fill a souvenir cup I was provided for having the beverage package. The staff member stated yes took the cup and proceed to make the coffee. When finished instead of pouring the coffee from the paper cup into the souvenir cup he hands me both cups and states “pour it into the cup yourself and next time don't ask for coffee to be put into your cup.” By the way if you do purchase a beverage package keep a close eye on you cabin bill. Myself and a number of other passengers found improper drink charges on their accounts. Having to correct these erroneous charges takes time and Princess Cruises could correct the problem by flagging these and having the Guess Services staff research and correct them without passengers waiting in line during their vacation to identify the error. I will say a few of the staff like the bartenders at the Good Spirts worked to enjoy guess had an enjoyable experience. This was however the exception. Maybe these bartenders can provide some training to the others on how to provide a positive guess experience. The suite book stated a suite guess should contact Guess Services to make reservations in the specialty restaurants. After trying to reach Guess Services by telephone three times with no answer and the inability to leave a message, I contacted the specialty dinning room reservations by telephone and was told there was nothing available. After this and the inability to contact my room steward via the telephone I sent an email to my travel agent that forwarded it to Princess Cruises. This is when Guess Services first contacted me. Princess might want to ensue they can cover the telephone service and not have it hang up on passenger due to no response. I was told the Ruby Princess did not have a suite concierge and the reason suite guess were told to contact specialty dinning room reservations directly. Also throughout the ship there were signs that directed guess to go to deck 16 to make reservations for the Curtis Stone specialty dinning experience. I went there twice and there was no one available to make a reservation. Appears that Princess Cruises has substituted staff and customer service for the medallion program and experience. I also found that no one seemed to want to take ownership of your issue/concern or problem. I was often referred to several different people or desk until I stop them. I heard the same issue from many other passengers as well. My experience continued to deteriorate when Princess cancelled my disembark excursion they did not notify me and when I discovered it I was passed between Guess Services and Excursions Desk with little concern about my vacation time in Sydney. My Hotel Princess had reserved for me was less than two blocks from where the ship docked yet after they cancelled my excursion, they were going to have me wait on the ship until 09:45 to take a bus to the hotel. This would have wasted half of day of two days I had left in Sydney. I was able to get permission to leave the ship with my own transfer to the Hotel. This allowed me to get to the Hotel check my bags and book with the Hotel concierge the same excursion Princess cancelled. This was consistent with the previous assistance and responses Princess staff members. By the way Princess did not bother to try to provide me information on my transfer to the airport in two days. I will cover that next. So I successful saved the day in Sydney with little effort but no assistance or recommendations from the Princess staff. The Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney that I will review separately was fantastic. A $5.00 Australia Dollar Uber ride got me to the Hotel around 07:00 AM. The Bellmen were very helpful checked my luggage and I checked-in and they were going to text me when the room was ready. The concierge was great they booked me on a 11 hour Blue Mountain and Zoological Park Tour that left 30 minutes after the booking from the Hotel. Great day even with the heavy rains. When I got back to the Hotel my room was ready and my luggage was already in the room. One thing missing was there no information from Princess on my airport transfer. Since I had another day I figured it might be left with the front desk or concierge the next day or Princess would have a hotel representative present for part of the day. When I checked early in the morning the front desk clerk and concierge mentioned that there would be a Princess cruise ship representative in the hotel the next day at 0800 AM. Since my flight did not leave until 2:00PM I felt comfortable waiting to get the transfer information the next day. The next day after breakfast I located two cruise representatives in the hotel but neither indicated they were there specifically for although one indicated she support Princess passengers. When I asked about the time for the airport transfer, she stated to be at the pickup location at 0930 AM. I proceeded with my morning and checked out at around 0900 AM. Up at the pickup point at 09:15 AM and shortly afterward the representative came out and stated you might want to come back inside and sit for a while. She stated she called Princess and the pickup was going to be at 10:30 AM. At this point I told her to cancel the transfer and I would take an Uber. Princess never bothered to contact me or reimburse me for the transfers they did not accomplish. This was a 18 Day Cruise Tour that was to have four sea days. While Princess cannot control the weather, they can plan for possible alternate ports. Two of the itinerary stops could not be docked or transited due to weather and Princess just add sea days rather than trying to find another destination. While I don't want to speak for other passengers many other experienced cruisers also expressed their disappointment with the cruise and staff and stated they may take a break. Princess might want to do a critical look at the practices and polices on this cruise. I would not recommend this for a first-time cruiser. There appeared to no options when there is a weather-related issue to adjust the New Zealand itinerary where other cruises, I have always found that the cruise has planned alternative. I you want to see New Zealand for the first time don’t take a cruise if you have not cruised before. Also consider some alternate land options. I will be going back to New Zealand to see what it is really like and what I could not see with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Food republic (NCL Escape) During my cruise on NCL Escape January 25, 2020 I enjoyed dining here on multiple occasions. The dining room is open and roomy. The main feature is a glass wall with sprawling views of the ocean and sunsets. ... Read More
Food republic (NCL Escape) During my cruise on NCL Escape January 25, 2020 I enjoyed dining here on multiple occasions. The dining room is open and roomy. The main feature is a glass wall with sprawling views of the ocean and sunsets. Stools are also available at the counters overlooking the chef’s preparation area. Plates are as advertised with 4 choices included with a dining plan- you eat very well. If you don’t have the dinning plan, I ordered a la carte, very affordable good quality/price. Perfect for solo travelers or sharing in groups. I love sushi and wasn’t disappointed, it was fresh and of excellent quality. I mostly ordered maki/rolls with salmon, shrimp and tuna. Squeaky clean open kitchens. I enjoyed conversation with hard-working but engaging chef (Wayan). Even on the busiest evening there was no wait, food was on the table in minutes. An important part of this experience was the Maître D (Edelyn Tuzon), always greeting patrons at the reception, polite, courteous and efficient. This lady remembered my name and last order every time, very helpful with explaining the menu or the use of the tablet. (for those afraid of technology, no worries the maître D and servers will assist with everything or a paper menu is available). All around fantastic experience, a cut above the rest, I would highly recommend. Mandara Spa Barbershop and Thermal Suite aboard the NCL Escape (January 25, 2020) Amir is the best barber! Very nice experience. Amir was courteous polite and attentive. Took the man facial with haircut that also included a vigorous facial, neck, arm and shoulder massage. Easily surpassed all my expectations, I’ll be back! Used the thermal suite pass throughout the week, relaxing, peaceful & quiet, views from the large windows are spectacular, the water features, especially the juts in the T-Pool help relive aches and pains. I recommend and will be taking on my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I was very excited to go on the seaside. Unfortunately from the beginning we had issues. We arrived and our room was dirty. Blood stains on sheets, feces in bathroom toilet, shower clogged. They did come and re-clean room. We then ... Read More
I was very excited to go on the seaside. Unfortunately from the beginning we had issues. We arrived and our room was dirty. Blood stains on sheets, feces in bathroom toilet, shower clogged. They did come and re-clean room. We then never received luggage. We called on it and then later in the evening our bag was left in the hallway broken and items were falling out. WE called the reception and they apologized that they damaged the luggage and lost several of our items. They stated that if we make a claim that we would be reimbursed at the end of our cruise. The following day the electric socket in the room started sparking and the built in hair dryer caught on fire. They came to fix the issue again. The whole cruise was not good and the maintenance on the ship was not good either especially for being a newer ship. The ship was understaffed and there was always a wait for ordering a drink from the bar The service in the specialty restaurants definitely didn't match the high prices they charge for average quality food The ship charges for everything. its really shocking the price they charge too. The internet fees are the highest I have seen on any ship and I have been on over 20 cruises. When we got home we made a claim for our damaged luggage and lost items that the ship lost and was told by customer service that they would not help in any way since we didn't buy the travel Insurance. I explained why would we need the travel insurance if it wasn't our fault. They said they don't cover any damaged caused by the ship or members of the ship even since it was their fault. I would recommend that you look for another company. The rates are cheap but that's what you get... The WALMART of cruises. CHAEP AND BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I wanted to travel through the Panama Canal on my birthday as I had done the Suez Canal with Celebrity Cruises the year before. I now call Norwegian Cruises - NO Norwegian cruises because anything you ask the staff except for our cabin ... Read More
I wanted to travel through the Panama Canal on my birthday as I had done the Suez Canal with Celebrity Cruises the year before. I now call Norwegian Cruises - NO Norwegian cruises because anything you ask the staff except for our cabin guy is a NO. Or they say yes and then you find out later its a NO. I asked if I could save a space for viewing the Panama and was told Yes, the 13th floor is open 24 hours. 2.45am I set the alarm and went to the 13th floor where I was confronted by the cleaner who told me, NO you can not be here. If you save a place the guy who does the floors will just move all your gear. My cabin mate booked 15 tours with the ship. I booked NONE because of how expensive they were. She paid over $1500US for her tours. I ended up doing a lot of tours she did however found a local at the end of the pier. The most I paid for any tour was $40US, plus I got fed. The ship tour didn't feed them once and gave free time at lunch. My cabin mate sat in crowed buses, was pushed and lost by the tour company twice. The food on board was so inconsistent. The main dining staff slow and untrained. It's like No Norwegian went to the jungle, pulled out a bunch of people, chucked them on the boat and said... you are a waiter, be free. 21 days with little to do, thank heavens we had 15 ports. Mostly it was a money grab. I have never had to pay to play deal or no deal. $29US, not enough players so we were sent away. Talks on herbal medicine turned into buy my acupuncture. They played the same movies on the in room tv over and over and over again. $9.95us to watch a movie on a tiny screen. Want to watch a rare movie with the crowd? You are sitting in the middle of a room next to a bar and coffee maker with people talking, coffee being ground and subtitles because you can't hear what is being said. Unfortunately if you are not in the front seat you can't see these subtitles and only the back of the persons head in front. Then there is the app that you can download. I couldn't believe there wasn't even shuffle board to entertain me, my cabin mate said yes there was, it's on the paper daily hand out. She used this and I used the app with the days agenda. This was the 2nd time I had been to reception saying that the app wasn't up to date. I was told that had I paid the $9.95 fee I would have been given up to date info. This fee allowed me to contact other passengers too. I didn't have anyone to contact as my cabin buddy doesn't like IT. I then asked for a complaint form, NO NORWEGIAN doesn't have these, go online and find one yourself. My eyes were damaged by the pool water. I couldn't see for 30 mins and have been seeing spots ever since. I was shuffled to 3 staff, the 3rd suggesting I pay for the doctor on board at my cost. We will see where that takes me. Another passenger in a motorized wheel chair was being lifted onto the bus when his chair slipped backwards and he hurt his back. The tour operator said it was NO NORWEGIAN responsibility as that's who he booked the tour with. NO NORWEGIAN said it was the tour operator. He is now seeking legal advice. A MONEY GRAB across the board. When attempting to get to the bottom of what % by law they had to pay out on the pokies and speaking to 3 staff I was told that if I put $100 in I would get to keep what ever it paid out. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast because I found fun people and created my own fun things to do. I would not recommend NO NORWEGIAN to anyone, this was my 2nd cruise with them and certainly my last. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We had such a great time on the Norwegian Sun! As with most cruises, the service on this ship was superior. The staff made every effort to ensure the comfort of it guests. There were only a few times I saw people getting aggravated ... Read More
We had such a great time on the Norwegian Sun! As with most cruises, the service on this ship was superior. The staff made every effort to ensure the comfort of it guests. There were only a few times I saw people getting aggravated with the staff and it was usually the customers fault. I will never understand why folks are rude to service staff. The food was decent in the buffet and MDR. We didn’t eat in any of the specialty restaurants this time but maybe Le Bistro on our next NCL cruise. The entertainment onboard was a musical medley from the 80s and a magician. Both had us up and cheering. The vocalists on the sun are truly magnificent. The only thing I would do differently is maybe go on a larger ship with more bells and whistles. I thinking would be a better fit our particular style of cruising. Overall, we had a blast. We liked Norwegian so much that we are now booked on the Bliss in November 2020. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I traveled with Norwegian several times however, this was the first time with Breakaway. I was very pleased. This time I ordered an inside room as those tend to be quiet. I was decompressing from the holidays!! Sunshine : Deck 8 ... Read More
I traveled with Norwegian several times however, this was the first time with Breakaway. I was very pleased. This time I ordered an inside room as those tend to be quiet. I was decompressing from the holidays!! Sunshine : Deck 8 provides multiple seated areas "mostly shaded" for drinks, reading or just observing the ocean. Mornings had a coffee station for early risers as well as walkers. The afternoons, have a dedicated bar as well as access to restaurants, both large and small.. Thank you for this design as reading outside is a delight! And I enjoy the cozy conversations with fellow travelers. Dining - "Kudos" to the dining organizers,, for opening the Moderno for breakfast and lunch. The buffet was well stocked with a variety of foods in a 'civilized' atmosphere. Sometimes the Garden Café is chaotic. The Manhattan, Cagney's Taste, also provided good food. The bartenders were 'not in a good mood" SUGGESTION: Espresso - please place a machine in the Garden Café. The station in the Atrium was slow, disorganized. The solo area has a machine that I have used before Entertainment: Burn the Floor is not to be missed! The Comedians provided laughs. Ports: Harvest Caye was a delightful surprise. The 'no charge' village is an assortment of beach, pool , butterfly garden, animal pool and shopping village. Bars both in pool and at beach. The layout is similar to the Westin Grand Cayman beach. Costa Maya also a surprise delight, for the same reasons, but not as large. Cozumel has upgraded significantly since my last visit 10 years ago, so I will plan a direct visit. I took the Chichen Itza excursion which I do not recommend. The guide provided IPADs with a Mayan presentation that exceeded expectations. The only reason that i do not recommend is because it is 7 hours of travel and 1 hour of touring. I spent 2 weeks in Roatan Honduras a few years ago and will never go again. However, while on a sofa watching passenger traffic I noticed that others felt the same. Not safe Unexpected : During this cruise, we had bad weather the first 2 days. 60 Mile per hour winds and 14 foot waves. Weather caused a cancel to the 1st port however, the crew quickly published a revised activity sheet. They were quick to provide activities for passengers. Travel is an adventure. I got a discounted massage. :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I have been on several cruises before... always on Disney, so naturally the bar was set extremely high. The reason I was on this particular cruise was because it was gifted to me by my mom. I had read alot of review about the carnival ... Read More
I have been on several cruises before... always on Disney, so naturally the bar was set extremely high. The reason I was on this particular cruise was because it was gifted to me by my mom. I had read alot of review about the carnival imagination before I embarked (on this site in particular) there were alot of reviews in which people's complaints were things I was not bothered by, there were also many things that I was bothered by that many people have not mentioned. I'll start with the good and end with the bad. The good: the embarkment process was super fast, and easy, faster and alot less complicated than Disney. One thing that I noticed other people were complaining about was the smoking... honestly I didn't mind it...I actually liked it...not because I am a smoker, because, well I am not. However what I liked about it was that the cruise did not solely cater to kids. Their smoking policy encompassed this perfect. There were many areas to smoke that was not just on deck but also inside. Speaking onto their dissregard for kids. That was probably the thing I liked, actually loved most about this cruise. Which is funny because it is what most of the reviews ranted about. Anyways, I don't like kids...I am a child free person who really dose not like kids or their parents they are rude and self absorbed. (To further prove this...there was actually a used dipper on one if the elevator button boxes that a parent had just left there) as I was saying, as much as I LOVE the Disney cruise it is very catered to kids. The carnival was not, they had many casinos, bars, smoking areas, nightclubs, 21+ comedy shows and even an area just for adults with hot tubs. I loved Catalina island the water is clear and the island was beyond expectations. There was quite a few events to keep us busy. The buffet was above average, I loved how they had the cakes cut and served to you by staff (so the kids were not getting their hands all in it) the comedy shows 21+ were above expectation and both comedians should be famous honestly. It was not too packed either. Beds were comfy as hell, state room was clean, and there was alot of good movies available. The bad: I wish we had stayed at Catalina the whole time...if you want to see Catilina this is a good way to do it. There is alot to do snorkeling, parisailing, scuba, and the water was crystal clear. That island was amazing. However ensanada is not much it is polluted, gross, and really is not much more than Tijuana. Your tours consist of getting drunk, fat, or both. On many cruises such as Disney they employ staff from all over the world. It provides a really fun and beat experience. However on carnival unlike Disney many of these staff members barely spoke English. The sit down dinners were a constant battle of guessing games. It would not bother me as much however the staff was rude about it and would get frustrated with you even though they were the ones who did not understand you. More about the sit down dining. I have been to many upscale restaurants and whatever that was is far from "upscale" if you have not had a 5 star dining experience you may be fooled, however. Many of the dinners were nasty and tasted like airplaine food. The chef mixed alot of wierd ingredients in an attempt to be fancy however they kept coming out as nasty concoctions. Besides the food, the "fancy" experience was ruined by the fact that every 5 seconds they needed your stateroom card, and we're constantly trying to sell you stuff. Also of you get the "bottomless bubbles" package (free drinks for your Cruise) you still end up paying a tax....leading into my next subjects. I don't know if you have ever flew with spirit airlines, however if you have you know about their bare minimum experience followed up with alot of "nickeling and dimeing you" (extra charges) one of the things I absolutely loved about the Disney cruise was that everything was free.... everything. However on the carnival many of the restaurants cost money, drinks cost money unless a package is purchased....your ticket may cost 200$ but by the time you spend the money to have a half decent experience you will be 500$ in easy. The pool is way too shallow. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Harmony of the Seas was an amazing cruise ship. Very engaging staff who helped made the experience memorable. The ship has a lot of on-board options; whether you're with a large group, with 1 other person, or by yourself. Cabin was ... Read More
Harmony of the Seas was an amazing cruise ship. Very engaging staff who helped made the experience memorable. The ship has a lot of on-board options; whether you're with a large group, with 1 other person, or by yourself. Cabin was fairly small but spacious enough for 2 people to move comfortably with 2 suitcases in the room. Dining options were nice. If you're on a budget, the free dining areas offer plenty of quality options; if you're looking for fine cuisine, the on-board restaurants offer many options/experiences too. The bar staff do a great job of personalizing your experience, with many of them remembering who you are and what your go-to drink is; and this was on a 6,000 traveler cruise ship. The waiters and other restaurant staff were great as well. They consistently looked to make sure you were OK and didn't need anything. The room staff was very good as well, personable. The port time-frames were very good as well, as most gave stops gave you time to explore even with long excursions. As for the excursions, very diverse options that cater to any type of traveler. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Overall a great cruise. It’s smaller and older, but it has great charm. It’s obvious it’s an older ship by the decor, but I kind of enjoyed the decor unlike most. I think it shows character. Staff is phenomenal! They have the ... Read More
Overall a great cruise. It’s smaller and older, but it has great charm. It’s obvious it’s an older ship by the decor, but I kind of enjoyed the decor unlike most. I think it shows character. Staff is phenomenal! They have the absolutely best hospitality I’ve ever experienced. They were friendly, helpful, and personable. I only told a worker my name once and then they remember it and greet me every day. Our room attendant made towel animals for us every night. He was beyond sweet. I’d come again just for the service received. Food was okay. Some things were REALLY good and others fell a little short. I am culinary arts student so maybe I am a bit more picky than the average person. They always had fun, free activities available. Very family friendly. Mostly families and older couples on this ship. Everyone is nice and talkative. Would recommend. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
My travel bucket list had long included the Panama Canal, both for its continuing commercial importance but also because of its historic engineering importance. It was the chance to see the canal that directed me to this trip. We ... Read More
My travel bucket list had long included the Panama Canal, both for its continuing commercial importance but also because of its historic engineering importance. It was the chance to see the canal that directed me to this trip. We traversed the Canal at night, a pattern that I thought might be a disappointment; it was quite the opposite as the canal is well lighted and one can see the operations of the locks even in the middle of the night. A return trip by bus from the Caribbean side to the Pacific and Panama City gave us a view of the canal in daylight. Costa Rica was an added and special bonus and seeing the flora and fauna of the Pacific rain forests was everything that I could have anticipated. Particularly interesting were the special excursions to a gold mining operation, a sugar processing farm, and a marvelous botanical garden. For the "active" traveler, there were many options including kayaking, snorkeling and more. Taking the trip on a ship (National Geographic Quest) that provided the best small ship accommodations that I have experienced and reasonable accommodations for the solo traveler made this even more special. The meals on board had a variety of selections and even though the chef needs to do a better job of cooking the meats, the food was generally quite good and nutritious. While not, perhaps, my most memorable cruise, this will be high on the list of fond memories for this retiree. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
MSC MERAVIGLIA REVIEW Large review from the perspective of a 32 year-old bachelor. GENERAL CRUISE LINE OVERVIEW BEFORE WE BEGIN This is now my 5th msc cruise, and 19th cruise overall. I first sailed MSC in 2009 on the ... Read More
MSC MERAVIGLIA REVIEW Large review from the perspective of a 32 year-old bachelor. GENERAL CRUISE LINE OVERVIEW BEFORE WE BEGIN This is now my 5th msc cruise, and 19th cruise overall. I first sailed MSC in 2009 on the Poesia(1st cruise overall that I ever took) 2016 on the divinia. 2018 on the Seaside 2019 on the Seaview, And finally this cruise in 2020 on the meraviglia. I said it in 2016 when i sailed the divinia, that i thought the cruise line had come a long way since 2009 in catering to american audiences, and i’ll say that the line has come even further throughout the years. My favorite line as a 32 year old male bachelor is celebrity. In an ideal world, i would only sail celebrity due to their gorgeous ships, consistently excellent cuisine, and exceptional service. However, since the introduction of the edge class ships in late 2018, celebrity has almost priced themselves out of my(and i assume most young professionals’ budgets) —especially if you like to cruise 3+ times a year like i do. When msc developed the “seaside class” of ships, i found a less expensive, granted more european style of what celebrity tries to do... ***hence my escalation of taking 4 msc cruises in the last 4 years. Also, with celebrity’s escalating prices, i’ve noticed that less and less young people are sailing with them from my last two cruises. (once on the edge, once on the summit). If celebrity doesn’t cease escalating their prices, i think that they’ll become the newest version of holland america line. An old folks home on cool ships. Out of sailing 5 different cruise lines since i began cruising 11 years ago, there is no doubt that msc is perhaps the most “controversial” line in varying opinions when it comes to americans. As many of you have probably read in other reviews, there are many americans who love it(like me), & a large minority who hate msc. —there seems to be very little middle ground. You need to understand something if you’re considering msc. —this is not carnival or royal caribbean. There is no “guys burger joint” or themed park typed honky-tonk milkshake places on these ships. This is an italian line that makes no apologies for their glitzy-glamorous, and sometimes (over-the-top) decor, style, and attitude. Their newer ships(including the meraviglia) are absolutely beautiful. Damn near stunning for a “regular” non-luxurious cruise line. If you absolutely love carnival, chances are, you won’t care for msc. So, i encourage all of you to do as much research as you can before choosing msc. About me and why i chose the ship. Some background on me to begin. I’m a 32 year old heterosexual male bachelor. like many of my cruises, i sailed the meraviglia with my 77 yr old father who has some health issues. And although, it’s a cruise to spend some father/son time together as we live in different states, he usually goes to bed quite early, and i enjoy the night life well into the wee hours of the morning… so, inevitably it ends up becoming a “singles” cruise for me. Speaking of dad, although he can still slightly walk, he mostly uses a power chair to get around. The staff aboard meraviglia couldn’t have been nicer, or more willing to help whenever he needed it. That’s not only great credit to the their staff as professionals, but credit to them as human beings. THE SHIP ITSELF As mentioned before, i cruise a lot...and although i give celebrity and norwegian incredibly high marks for their newer ships, and how beautiful and modern that both of those cruise lines’ new ships are, the meraviglia is incredible(in terms of aesthetics and pure beauty). I’m young, and like glitzy/glammy modern ships. These incredible ships are another reason why msc has become a real player in the game. All of their newer ships are works of art. The meraviglia has three primary spaces in the interior. The 5th deck(serving as a bar, guest relations desk, and help centers). The 7th deck, where most of the speciality restaurants, some bars, and the karaoke lounge are located (all of which is open-air balcony style gazing down on the 6th deck(galleria meraviglia). And finally, the 6th deck which is the heart of the action with virtually all shops, most bars, excursions desk, the remaining specialty restaurants, the chocolate shop, and numerous other odd’s and ends are located. The 6th deck(known as the “galleria meraviglia”) is also the best view of the famed led ceiling that changes throughout the cruise, and has video demonstrations, artwork displays, entertainment clusters, and various other things that play. The galleria meraviglia is truly one of the most unique, and incredible interiors that you’ll see on any ship. I can only describe it as an upscale mall at sea. The aforementioned 3 decks also feature the famed msc swarovski crystal staircases on the aft(back end) of the galleria. This area is basically 3 decks of mirrored bars/hangout spaces/ information desks(such as guest relations, photo areas, and the msc giftshop.) along with lots of live music, and beautiful hd digital screens of designs, artwork, etc... The Cabin: This will be short and sweet… like pretty much all cruise ship cabins, it was small and served it’s purpose. I am a 32 year old, and although i always get a balcony room on any ship that i sail on, i can’t tell you that i ever spend much time in my state room other than to sleep and get dressed. But, for what it’s worth, the state room was very nice, and modern. The balcony was a very decent size and i enjoyed having a bloody mary or coffee on it in the mornings. You are on a cruise ship to have a good time, and be around other people, and get some sun. —you can’t do any of those things by staying in your room. I was on deck 14(mid ship)good location and easy to everywhere. My room stewardess was elvina from st. Lucia... She was awesome. Always was there when i needed something. POOL DECK(S) The pool decks on meraviglia are nice and spacious. There’s the main pool deck on 15 where the majority of deck chairs are located, along with the balcony style deck overlooking the pool on deck 16. There’s also the yacht club pool deck on a small portion of deck 16. This is restricted to only yacht club passengers and will require keycard access to get in. Then you have smaller areas for deck chairs on deck 18 above the pool, and near the kids area. There’s also the back pool deck located on decks 16, 17, and 18. This is an adult only area of the pool. Like most cruises, deck chairs fill up quickly with towel clips, bags, and magazines holding chairs for sometimes hours before they’re actually occupied. There is a decent amount of overcrowding on sea days.... Again, i don’t really know how msc could really address this, other than to recommend that you get out there earlier. The pool areas were very nice and are what you’d typically expect from a large cruise ship pool area. Lot’s of corner bars, and drink service around the pool as well. CRUSIE CROWD DIVERSITY AND AGES ON MERAVIGLIA Msc will feel slightly different if you’ve never sailed with them before. If sailing out of an american port, you can expect probably the most diverse cruise crowd that you’ll ever experience. Although I have no data to back up my numbers, I estimated that passengers aboard Meraviglia were of the following nationalities: 40% from the u.s., 30% european (mostly from italy, germany, and france), 15% latin american, 10% canadian, and 5% other(mainly asian). The age range on meraviglia is also very diverse. Again without actual data, my observations would be the following: 45% Generation Y & Millennials (Born in the the 1980’s & 90’s) 20% Baby Boomers (56-74 yr olds) 15% Generation X (Born in late 60’s through 70’s) 15% Children (including teens, kids, and babies) 5% Elderly In my opening, i talked about celebrity pricing themselves out of the young professional crowd... If my numbers are somewhat accurate, you can see that this is helping to drive people like me to lines like msc. *as i’ve mentioned several times, i’m young, and i found that there was a good number of millennial singles on the ship, as well as married couples, and others. Supposedly there were around 300 kids on the ship. —credit to msc for having kids/teens clubs... Because, if there were that many on the ship, i didn’t notice it.... THE FOOD Specialty Restaurants/Main Dinning Room/Buffet My father and i ate at 5 specialty restaurants on board. Speciality Restaurants BUTCHERS CUT: A+ By far, the best specialty restaurant on meraviglia is “butchers cut”. I know that a lot of people may roll their eyes at fancy steakhouses now a days considering that they seem to be on every corner in our country. But trust me, you want to go and try this restaurant… my father who has been on 10+ cruises as well, and i both agreed that this was one of the best meals that we’ve ever had at sea. I first tried “butchers cut” on the seaside, and also loved it then, as much as i loved it now. All different cuts of steak, with numerous choices of sides. If you have a speciality dinning package, they’ll limit you to a choice of cut to either a filet or a strip, along with one appetizer, choice of two sides, and one dessert. If you want to sub a ribeye(like i did), they’ll charge you 1/2 the menu price of the steak, and let you finish out the package with all of the other dishes that i mentioned. OCEAN CAY: B+ “ocean cay”. although the seafood was pretty good, and the atmosphere is very nice like most of their specialty restaurants, i’m from louisiana… so it’s hard for me to get any better seafood than what i eat at home. I had the yellow finned tuna, and my father had the lobster. Both were good. Not out of this world, but very good. They get the “b+” because the variety on the menu is not very extensive. Maybe 7-8 things total to choose from. TEPPANYAKI HIBACHI: A- If you’re an avid cruiser, many of you have probably had hibachi on a ship(probably even the teppanyaki brand). As usual, the performance of the chef, the variety of meats and seafood, and the whole meal was excellent. The only reason that they didn’t get the a+ is because teppanayki is not included on any speciality dinning package. You have to pay for the meal straight up, period. A little cheap on msc’s part if you ask me. CIRQUE du SOLEIL DINNER SHOW: A+ You’ll have either a meat option, seafood option, or vegetarian option. I chose the meat and it was a rack of lamb over garlic mashed potatoes. It was freaking orgasmic how good this meal was. Imo right there with “butchers cut” as the best meal on the ship. My father had the vegetarian option, and said that his was excellent as well. I highly recommend doing this dinner show as both entertainment and the quality of the food. KIATO SUSHI BAR: C- This was the only speciality dinning that i mostly didn’t care for. I had this on the final night of the cruise with a lady friend that i made earlier in the voyage. The sashimi(raw fish) was excellent and fresh. Unfortunately just about everything else was off. If you have the specialty dinning package, you have absolutely no control over your order. It’s a set menu of miso soup(which was cold and bland) , cooked rolls(like california style) which were mediocre at best, and green tea ice cream for dessert. Had we actually ordered the rolls that we wanted to order, we would’ve paid $12-$15 per roll, and forgone my already paid for dinning package. In my opinion, it’s really a rip off of a specialty restaurant. Msc needs to re-toll the entire menu and make it more people friendly, and help people understand what they’re actually paying for. If purchasing a speciality dinning package, you get the least for your money at kiato. In addition to the food falling short, the sushi bar is located out in the main promenade under the giant led ceiling(sounds great right????) —unfortunately not. You’re right in the middle of the deck 7 off a major pathway of foot traffic, with blaring conflicting live music from each side of you(forward side with a live band, and rear side with a stringed quartet), and you’ll find yourself almost have to shout across the table in order for your dinner date to hear you. —i understand that there’s not really a way that they could fix the location, but it was one of the few structural things that i didn’t care for on the entire ship which kind’ve added to the already mediocre dinner. Main Dinning Room: B-/ C+ We had “any time” dining due to our status with msc. However, we only ate in the main dinning room twice as we did five nights of speciality dinning. we were assigned to “olive d’oree”(one of three main dinning rooms on meraviglia). The food was average. Not great, not bad. I can say that it’s much improved from my early msc experiences minus the seaside(which was excellent). Using my chatting with other passengers/lady friend as a litmus test, you’ll hear mixed results when it comes to the main dinning rooms. This has been a problem for americans on msc for years. It’s almost like the one thing that they can’t seem to consistently get on par with other major cruise lines. It’s not terrible, it’s just not consistently good. For example, one of the nights, we had excellent service, but the food was below average. The other night, the food was great, but the service sucked. Again, pretty common on msc. That’s why i lean more towards speciality dinning on msc than any other cruise line that i take. THE BUFFET: A- The buffet on meraviglia is pretty standard for what you’d expect for a buffet for all major sized cruise ships. We ate breakfast every day there, and had lunch there on sea days. —contrary to what some people have written about the buffet, i found the variety to be pretty good. They had all of the american favorites such as burgers, hotdogs, and pizza. Plus, salad bars, pasta bars with assorted pastas and lasagna and ravioli etc... Plus they had a grilled section to where they would change it up from day to day with roast beef one day, pork tenderloin on another, and roasted chicken on other days etc... ***overall score for food when you add everything together would be a solid a- or b+ (i’m from louisiana... Trust me, if it was bad or unseasoned, I would tell you) THE BARS AND DRINK PACKAGES The best bar on the ship is the “sky lounge” on deck 18 overlooking the pool deck. It’s only open at night. It’s a very modern piano bar with a jazz singer. But what makes it stand out is the fact that it has the best bar tenders on meraviglia. Ask for mohammad, or henry from the philippines. Or raul from honduras. All three of which are the most decorated mixologists on meraviglia. All three have been with the company for over 10 years. This bar is elegant and not a party bar like others on the ship. The most fun party bar on the ship is called “the meraviglia bar”on deck 6 near the main theatre. This is where adult game shows and live bands typically are. PACKAGES So, i’m a drink snob. And drink a lot. I assure you that whatever msc charges for their drink packages, i am not one of the ones that they make money off of... I always purchase the premium drink package for everyone of my cruises. The drink package that i purchased was $434 for the entire cruise(or $62 per day). But with my msc status, i got a 25% discount, saving me $108.50, so i actually paid $325.50. Types of drink packages: —non-alcoholic package ($203 total, or $29 per day). Covers all soda’s and energy drinks and is for people that don’t like have fun. —easy package ($245 total, or $35 per day, covers drinks up to $6 per drink) i’d recommend this if you’re on a budget, but still want to drink lots of alcohol. This will include most mixed drinks with house liquor. Like cheap vodka, rum, bourbon, gin. —premium package ($434 total, or $62 per day, covers drinks up to $12 per drink) this is for people that like patron, grey goose, higher-end rums, whiskeys etc... This also includes almost all frozen drinks, and speciality cocktails. —premium plus package ($553 total, or $79 per day, covers all alcohol on board) there is only one reason why you would get this package, and that is if you want dom perignon, or significantly aged scotch, or super high end rare whiskey etc...honestly, i think going premium plus is a total waste of money, but thats just my opinion. If i thought it was worth it, i’d do it. *one big tip on getting a “solo”drink package. If you’re in a stateroom with your spouse, and they don’t drink as much as you do... Msc will not let you purchase a premium package just for yourself. In other words, you can’t purchase a premium drink package just for you, and your wife purchase a non-alcoholic package or no package. They pretty much figure out what you’ll do, which is get the drink for you, and one for your wife. So on their website, they make you purchase two premium drink packages, or whatever your highest desired package is(almost like double occupancy). So online, there’s no way to purchase just one drink package if you’re room has two people. ***so here’s what you need to do as a hack around this, that i’ve done on my last 3 msc cruises. Call msc directly, and explain that your spouse or whoever is in the room with you does not drink. (whether you say health reasons, or whatever). They will let you purchase one drink package for yourself (figuring that they don’t want to lose out on selling at least one drink package). Then, you can grab the drinks for you and your wife, saving hundreds of dollars. Only msc can do this on the phone. You cannot get this done on the website. You’re welcome! ;) THE SERVICE IN GENERAL: I’ve read tons of reviews of this ship coming into this cruise of people criticizing the staff over troubles with service. Ladies and gentlemen, i’m here to tell you that i mostly didn’t experience this other than one night in the main dinning room. —if i’m at my most critical, i would give the service a b+ or a-. If we ever needed something, it was taken care of in a timely fashion. The rare time that something was wrong, it was fixed in a timely fashion. One complaint that ive routinely seen on msc cruises is issues with staff that do not speak english. —i personally think that this has drastically improved over the past several years, particularly on caribbean based itinerary ships like the meraviglia and the seaside. Now, there is still a little bit of a language barrier... But the vast majority of the staff at least knows a little bit of english. If you find yourself in a rare situation to where someone cannot answer a question, simply ask another of the numerous abundant crew staff members who will be near. ENTERTAIMENT ON BOARD: A+ As usual, in my opinion...this is msc’s strongest area(and always has been). Even going back to a very lackluster cruise on the msc poesia in 2009, the entertainment back then was good. Those italians can put on a show! The entertainment on this cruise was excellent. The shows from night-to-night are nothing short of sensational. Even the people who seemed to not enjoy this cruise remarked how good the entertainment was. Rather than to take it show by show, i can tell you that you will see a lot of broadway variety type of dancing, singing, and incredible acrobatics. The best show by far was “sonor” in the cirque du soleil theatre in the rear of the ship. —you will need a special dinner ticket, or to purchase a ticket to this show and you’ll get a free speciality cocktail as part of the show. All main theatre shows are free. I loved all of the main theatre shows as well. Every night, there’s a different full broadway style show. As is becoming customary on most cruises now, you will need to reserve your seat at 1 of the 3 nightly shows in the main theatre. You can easily change your seating times throughout the day. Most main theatre shows each night will be at 7pm, 8:30pm, or 10pm. —you’ll choose which time is best for you around your dinner schedule. You can do this from the “msc for me” app(which you can use anytime during the cruise) even without a wifi package...or you can make these changes on one of the numerous video touch screens throughout the ship. You can reserve all show times on day one, or decide which showtime you want to attend that same day. WIFI ON BOARD B+ So i’m in management with my company, and i have to stay somewhat connected back home...although it’s mainly just to have it in case of a client emergency, or the occasional glance at email when i’m at the pool deck, or to have itunes available to work out in the gym. I had the unlimited wifi. When working, the wifi was pretty good. There were times that it was down for an hour here, or an hour there. But nothing bad. If you need it for netflix, or disney+ for your kids, i would download a bunch of videos before getting onboard. I don’t think the wifi would be very good for streaming. However, it was very good for social media, email, and googling. NIGHTLIFE: A+ So as mentioned before, i’m a bachelor and enjoy late nights on cruise ships. Msc does a great job with the variety of themed parties, as well as club atmospheres around meraviglia. There will be several themed nights on the cruise: including “white night”, 70 & 80’s party, tropical night, and 2 formal nights. Yes, that’s right, msc is one of the few lines that still has two dress-up nights in a week long cruise. Personally I guess that i’m a rare traditionalist millennial when it comes to really liking this. I already wear a sport coat often to work, and that’s in south louisiana where it’s needless to say, quite warm for most of the year. I also enjoy when women take the time dress up. Cruising is the last romantic way to vacation. There’s something about going to sleep at 2am with a bottle in your hand in the middle of a beautiful ocean and awaking in an exotic location somewhere in the caribbean or mediterranean. All that being said, the dressing up is not super enforced on “elegant nights” as they call it. But, they will not allow men to wear shorts or jeans in any of the restaurants minus the buffet on this night. Women will mostly wear cocktail dresses, and heels. THE CASINO: The casino was nice, but lacked a good vibe...but i’m not going to be the best person to review this area as i’m not much of a gambler, and i’m allergic to cigarette smoke, and this was one of the few areas on the interior part of the ship that people are allowed to smoke. That being said, it looked really cool, and people seemed to be having a good time there. IN CLOSING: As mentioned in my opening, msc has come a hell of a long way since i first sailed them in 2009. And this cruise was legitimately consistently good across the board. The food was very good, the service was very good, the drinks were very good, and the ship was spectacular. I will say it again that i do not understand why so many people have had issues with this cruise. If you are looking for a carnival walmart cruise, to where everyone weighs 400 lbs, and has 13 kids, then book carnival. This cruise line does not try to be that. Bottom line, if you are thinking about booking this cruise, or have already booked it, and are apprehensive like i was because of some of the negative reviews, dont be! Keep an open mind! A cruise is what you make it. i have yet to find the perfect cruise, and the msc seaside is no exception. But i can tell you, that i had (c-)expectations, and had an (a+) time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was my first MSC cruise and I have to say that the experience was quite positive and made me want to consider MSC again for future cruises. The Meraviglia is an absolutely stunning, and extremely glitzy vessel. The promenade and ... Read More
This was my first MSC cruise and I have to say that the experience was quite positive and made me want to consider MSC again for future cruises. The Meraviglia is an absolutely stunning, and extremely glitzy vessel. The promenade and atrium, with it's Swarovski decorated staircases, are as nice as anything I've seen on any ship! The lounges are plentiful, comfortable and very nicely decorated. Boarding was a multi-stage, multi-queue affair but, with a little patience, wasn't all that bad. It took an estimated 45 minutes from arrival at the main doors of the terminal to arrive onboard. It was 45 minutes of progressing through queues but also a good time to meet other cruisers. Once onboard, it took a while to get the MSC for Me app working and there also were a few glitches using the electronic kiosk to set up a credit card on my account. With these first steps completed, I went to find my room, about an hour before the time we were told rooms would be ready. By chance, the room steward was just finishing the room and after a mild warning about being there too early, I was welcomed to my inside studio. I liked the multicultural vibe on the ship. On my other cruises, the vast majority of passengers were English speaking and from the US, Canada, and Great Britain. On the Meraviglia there seemed to be passengers from all over the world and it was refreshing to hear a wide variety of languages being spoken. I also liked it that performances in the theatre featured different languages and not just English. The officers and most staff do their best to be welcoming but some staff could definitely use some retraining or an attitude adjustment in this area. It seemed that the Filipino and Indonesian staff were the best trained and most customer service focused. The room steward was friendly and generally did a great job but seemed extremely busy and was seldom in the area of the room. The "do not disturb" and "make up room" switches on the wall were a lot more convenient than the doorknob hangers that other cruise lines use. Not having my room made up one evening because the "do not disturb" light was on was a good reminder to be careful to turn the switch off when leaving the room. The food was, for the most part, very good. Not as good as Celebrity or Holland America but better than expected. There was lots of variety in the main dining room and the desserts were not bad at all. The buffet restaurant was also good, but the carving stations did not seem to have high-quality cuts. The pizza on the buffet was, as everyone seems to comment, very good. I had breakfast in the main dining room most days and was seated and served quickly and the breakfast items were very good. One strange little quirk is that if you ask for a decaf with your dessert in the main dining room, you are served a cup of hot water with an envelope of instant decaf. By contrast, the buffet always has urns of brewed decaf available. I tried a $5.00 hamburger at the Irish Pub but have to say that the burgers at the buffet were better. I expected something special and not a pre-formed (and probably previously frozen) hamburger for an extra cost at the pub. Other than that, my only experience with the specialty restaurants was a mid-week walkthrough and small bites sampling. I have to say that those small bites tasted great but did not tempt me to try the restaurants. The only really negative experience with dining was a tough and very salty swordfish entrée in the main dining room. One bite was more than enough and a replacement entrée was quickly ordered and delivered. Traveling solo, I was a bit concerned about the fixed dining times and preassigned tables but have to say that MSC worked this out very well. All guests at my preassigned table were about the same age and traveling solo so there was no issue finding something of interest to talk about. The entertainment was excellent with a variety of song and dance shows varying from Opera to Rock and Roll – there was something for almost everyone. The extra cost Cirque de Soleil Viaggo show was absolutely excellent and better than any other show I've seen at sea. As others have commented, it's better to buy the show plus beverage package rather than the dinner show as the "beverage only" seats are right at the front of the theatre. The MSC for Me app was very easy to use and useful. It was possible to reserve theatre showtimes, excursions, etc. directly through the app. MSC "matched" my Celebrity Elite status and although the benefits were not nearly as substantial as on Celebrity, free access to the thermal room at the SPA once during the cruise was a nice touch. It was a bit disappointing that the hot tubs by the main and indoor pools seemed to be constantly crowded (and occupied by the same guests) and that it was difficult to find lounge chairs on the upper decks as so many were "reserved" but unused. I wish that MSC and the other cruise lines would actually remove personal items from chairs after a half hour or so like their policies say they will. Port days were generally well handled but re-boarding was not that pleasant as there were unnecessary crowds and lines at security. MSC's Ocean Cay and Marine Preserve was my best "private island" experience yet. The opportunity to walk across several white sandy beaches and to sit by a fire on the beach while watching the evening musical parade and light show were right up my alley. All in all, the cruise was both great and inexpensive and it was wonderful having the Meraviglia as my home for a week. I would happily sail on the Meraviglia or a sister ship in the future. My first choice in mainstream cruise lines remains Celebrity but my first MSC cruise provided incredible value for money. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We sailed on the MSC Seaside for a week and immediately took another week cruise on the Princess Regal. These ships are quite different and attract a different crowd. For this review, I will often compare the two for a more informative ... Read More
We sailed on the MSC Seaside for a week and immediately took another week cruise on the Princess Regal. These ships are quite different and attract a different crowd. For this review, I will often compare the two for a more informative review. The embarkation was as smooth as one can get thousands of people on a boat in a few hours.  Yes, we had to wait, but in each case it was no more that twenty minutes in line,  I think this is acceptable. Both ships had port facilities that was meant to handle large crowds, MSC had recently built their own. MSC closed the staterooms until 2 PM on embarkation,  we were able to access our stateroom at 1 PM on Princess. The MSC Seaside is very flashy, and yet elegant with chrome and mirrors everywhere, while the Princess Regal had fancy wood decorations concentrating around the lighting.  Unfortunately the fake wood reminded me of my 1985 Chrysler LeBaron Woody so I was less impressed with this ship.  The MSC Seaside had a open feel in all common areas, while the Princess Regal had many circular areas with seats for a more private feel. The Atrium on the Seaside was 4 levels in height and was impressive with chrome, mirrors, and a very fancy stairway, while the Princess was 3 levels with more of the wood and fancy lighting. The Princess had a medallion (computer chip) which you wear, in contrast to the key card on MSC. In addition, the Princess phone app was more advanced, with lots of features. Unfortunately, the complicated app did not work properly on either of our cell phones despite the phones being a common Samsung Galaxy 7. The computer technician apparently knew the problem and got an older program running on my phone that lacked all the features, while we finally gave up on my wife's phone. The complexity of the Princess software was frustrating. I have done some programming and the app lacks data checking and error recovery subroutines. The MSC app was more limited but work fine. Both ships had hand washing stations in the entrance to the buffet, this should be a requirement for all ships to reduce the chance of illness. The food  on Princess was excellent with fancy presentation and more variety. But, on both ships, we had food that was not up to our standards,and ordered another dish. The table service on MSC was slower than Princess,as the staffing levels are different. At the buffet, Princess had carving station which was a great presentation, however, sometimes, it was the chopped, pressed block of meat, I like meat that has not been processed extensively.  However, the burgers, fries, and pizza on MSC were more tasty as they often fresher as their cruise crowd is more of a burger consumer. Princess had two places to get a pizza, with the fancy location making it to order, which would certainly equal MSC. However the Princess crust was like a frozen pizza, while the MSC pizza crust was nice and chewy. Princess had one lobster night and our server delivered us a second while MSC had a fish platter that was had a half lobster. We loved the taste of the food on Princess formal dinners while MSC was more variable. Overall, the food on Princess was very good and the food on MSC was just good . Subsequent to our time on the Regal Princess the Center for Disease issue it's report on the ship and they failed it at a rate of 77 points. This was a surprise, we did not notice anything unclean in food preparation. The last inspection on the Regal was a perfect 100. When we boarded Princess, we at first thought kids were not allowed on the cruise. There were families on the cruise, but nowhere as many as MSC. Princess certainly attracts a older crowd. Princess was much more laid back with outdoor movies and often provided blankets and seat cushions at night while viewing. MSC had more activities. Princess had all shows in English and more variety than MSC. Two of the nights a comedian performed for the main show and he had a phrase that everyone on the ship started to repeat (it was funny). Princess had a small band that was basically underutilized as much of the music was per-recorded. Some of the members appeared in bar bands throughout the ship. At first I was thrilled to have a band on the ship but by the end, there was little purpose for the band. Princess also had a Beatles tribute band that was entertaining. Princess had older crowd with few kids, MSC had a variably of ages, with many families and baby carriages.  I never say a baby carriage on Princess.  MSC had play areas for small children and teens and probably offered discounts for families.  It as clear the MSC Seaside was designed for family enjoyment .  Both ships had upscale areas in the front of the ship that were off-limits to those who did not purchase them.  Princess had a Serenity deck while MSC when much farther with the Yacht Club.  Yacht Club member had separate quarters, dining, bars, and a butler assigned to them.  It was like a ship within the ship. MSC staff were younger and more male than the veteran Princess staff . The Princess staff was more friendly but our cabin steward clearly wanted us to conform to his schedule which was odd. Princess had staff that brought you your drink at the buffet(if you can find them), I prefer to draw my own drink which was the case on MSC. The internet WiFi on both ships was good, with Princess averaging a faster speed. Both had a WiFi package for less then a hundred dollars for the week, much cheaper than the $30 a day some lines charge for internet access. Neither ship tried the hard sell for additional cost items, this was much better than other cruise lines and a relief. The schedule at Princess ended at 11PM every night and their was little options for food ,activities, or dancing after this time. Princess had a cafe that was open until about 11:30 with some light sandwiches. MSC had longer hours with late night dancing and Pizza and a buffet food options until 12:30 PM. In contrast, we usually travel on Carnival, and they have 24 hour pizza and food options until 1 AM The debarkation was as smooth as one can get thousands of people off a boat in a few hours.  Customs was the bottleneck with even slower lines on MSC because of the foreigners. In summery, the cruises on Princess were generally older and more laid back. MSC had more activities with foreigners, families, and a younger crowd. In a nutshell, if you like to retire at 11PM and you like good food with a fancy presentation, Princess is for you, while MSC is for those that can stay up to 1 PM, like an international crowd with families, enjoy pizza, burgers and decent food. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I went on this cruise to celebrate an important birthday and to try out the Studio offerings. The Studios are located on three decks: 10, 11, 12. I liked the studio cabin with the lights and window, it was cozy; the Studio Lounge was an ... Read More
I went on this cruise to celebrate an important birthday and to try out the Studio offerings. The Studios are located on three decks: 10, 11, 12. I liked the studio cabin with the lights and window, it was cozy; the Studio Lounge was an excellent addition (needs more pillows). The lounge was convenient for coffee, meeting other solo cabin mates and meetings. I was surprised to only meet a handful of people there! On this cruise, even though Studios were sold out - never saw/met many of the other members. Luckily, during the first few hours, met a group of friendly people who ended up being available for group activities e.g. dinner, dancing, shore excursions. There was also Cruise Critic meetings on board which were mostly couples and a few singles. I haven’t cruised in quite a while and noticed that the crowd events: pool, Atrium, entertainment was repeated often, daily and the volume at these activities is still very LOUD. There were only a few spots on the ship where is was actually quiet and space was limited. On board entertainment consisted of television game shows e.g. Deal or No Deal, the Newlyweds Game, etc. Some of these were fun; some were ridiculous and I felt sorry for the “contestants”. The theatre and comedy clubs were GREAT. We saw After Midnight and The Choir of Man both were excellent, especially Melba Moore singing Stormy Weather. The Zip Line at Harvest Caye, their private island in Belize, is excellent, as was the Mayan Temple tour in Costa Maya. Food was OK. Options were flexible which is nice - no set dining times/tables. Room service food was the best, oddly enough. One big disappointment was the Medical Services. I injured my leg, filed an accident report and just wanted someone to take a look and possibly treat me. Instead I received an unwelcome lecture about how much it was going to cost. I was warned by others that it would be very expensive; $199.00 just to see a doctor, no nurse was available for consultation. They made it clear they wanted to be paid! Guest services recorded the accident and told me there would be no charge which the medical staff strongly disagreed with. I was bounced back and forth until free medical service was denied. Guest services offered me a free dinner instead! Warning: the medical department does not accept medical insurance and all charges do directly to your ship account. They told me if I had the ship insurance I would be reimbursed. I ended up buying medical wrapping tape, Ibuprofen and treating myself. Thankfully, it resolved enough for me to walk again while onboard. However, I had to cancel many activities for the rest of the cruise. Overall, I met some lovely people and accomplished my goal of zip-lining to celebrate my birthday. I also had a great shore excursion in Costa Maya learning about the Chacchoben pyramids. I met some great people in the Studio Lounge and hope to keep in touch for future adventures. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Con: Cruising on the Escape I was left disappointed. One pool for over 4,500K cruisers and on sea days way too crowded as people were stepping over people. In most bar areas the bartenders were so busy with all the drink package cruisers ... Read More
Con: Cruising on the Escape I was left disappointed. One pool for over 4,500K cruisers and on sea days way too crowded as people were stepping over people. In most bar areas the bartenders were so busy with all the drink package cruisers it was hard to get a drink without waiting in line. The customer service was unfriendly and reflected a lack of communication skills. The dining room staff were so busy they were not able to offer personal connections with each guest. The meals were not that great with almost the same options every night. The gift shopps offered more jewerly and high ticket items rather than NCL apparrel and small items most cruisers might actually want. Pro: The embarkment and dissembarkment was wonderful almost walked on and off with little wait. Two thumbs up! Ship was clean with plenty of activities going on for both adult and children. The Garden Cafe was pretty good for breakfast and lunch with plenty of food selections and ample seating. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
First up, a disclaimer. I’m more recently a solo cruiser and I choose cruises based on the ship (ambience etc), the itinerary, and mostly because I like to relax and read a book (thus quiet spaces are very important). I’m not really ... Read More
First up, a disclaimer. I’m more recently a solo cruiser and I choose cruises based on the ship (ambience etc), the itinerary, and mostly because I like to relax and read a book (thus quiet spaces are very important). I’m not really interested in active onboard activities (iFly, Dogems, Flowrider etc). Radiance of the Seas was my 9th cruise from Australia, and my 5th with RCI (after Voyager, Explorer, Rhapsody, Legend, and now Radiance). I wanted to travel on Radiance for two reasons; firstly, because I’d heard fantastic feedback on her, and secondly because she is going to be home-ported at my home city of Brisbane in November 2020. I also cruised on Carnival Spirit in May 2019 (which I never bothered reviewing) which is also moving to the new Brisbane Cruise Terminal in late 2020. The ship: I loved her. People have raved about the glass and lighting, and they are right. It is bright and airy. I love the fact that you can walk around the lido deck up to the front helicopter deck, and there are chairs and lounges on this level (5) to enjoy (unlike Carnival Spirit). Yes, she is an older ship, but the crew are doing an awesome job to keep her in condition. The only negative I would say is her lifts. There are two lots; one bank of three forward, and then a bank of five midships, starboard side adjacent to the Centrum. The latter were a real challenge as you had to run between each when they arrived (quite a distance). They have spectacular views of the outside, but they are a challenge. One of the comedians made a great joke about them in his performance, which brought a resounding cheer from the audience. As others have said, if you are dining in Windjammer and you need somewhere to sit, keep going aft to the “secret” location overlooking the stern. What was the Viking Crown Lounge on level 13 (now called the Star Lounge) is also a great daytime escape. The adults only Solarium is another great spot, although can get a bit hot and humid on occasions. I did a few of the speciality restaurants; Giovanni’s, Chops Grill and Izumi. All great. On day 1 you can sign up for a discounted three dining package for AUD$79, which is well worth it. I didn’t try Sumba (the Brazilian Restaurant), and I think it would struggle to attract numbers because it is tucked away on level 12 or 13 (can’t remember which). The Schooner Bar is one of the largest that I have seen on the RCI ships that I have cruised on (plenty of room) and I appreciated the Colony Club at the stern for a quiet space to take a break (except during the inevitable art auctions and bingo….) Entertainment: We were absolutely blessed to have the University of Wisconsin Blugold Marching Band with us on the cruise (https://www.blugoldmarchingband.com/). These folk performed a few times over the cruise and they were absolutely outstanding. My numbers may be wrong, but the band normally has around 450 members, however on this cruise, some 300 plus support staff and parents/guardians (around 400 all up). They are normally used to performing on US football fields, but whilst the restrictions of the Aurora Theatre were challenging, they did an awesome job. A shout-out to the parents, guardians and supervisors. To put this in context, these students are primarily aged between 18 and 21, and they have come from the US, where the legal minimum drinking age is 21. In Australia (where Radiance was home-ported at the time) our minimum drinking age is 18. You would have expected a few “challenges”, but I have to say that the young adults from the University of Wisconsin were exemplary in their behaviour. There were other entertainers as well, including an illusionist, comedian, singers, and entertainers, and whilst they were great, I have to say that they were out-performed by the Blugold Marching Band. Ports and excursions: I did a similar itinerary on Voyager a few years ago, as well as a more recent comprehensive self-drive tour of the South Island, so I wasn’t really interested in organised tours, plus I had friends to catch up with in Auckland. The Sounds (Milford, Dusky etc) are simply awesome. Although there was low cloud with limited visibility, it is a magical place. Congrats to RCI; the local guide that they engaged did an outstanding commentary all the way through. I didn’t do anything at Dunedin (I’ve been there a few times), choosing instead to take a nice walk around Port Chalmers. Nice place. There were two tender ports that I was really looking forward to exploring on foot. Akaroa was one, and it was a disaster. The ship moored at 7.30am around 2kms from the port of Akaroa, and there was another ship adjacent to us (Noordam). Radiance had four tenders running, and understandably they had to give priority to those who had booked shore tours through RCI. Four hours after tendering started my number was finally called, but all that meant was joining another queue just to get to the tender, which would have meant a departure of around 12.30pm, with a 45 minute transit to Akaroa, just in time to turn around and return to the ship. I gave up, and heard a few folk saying that the delays were exasperated by congestion at the wharf (3,500 pax from two ships) and massive delays queueing to return to Radiance. Clearly RCI had learned the lesson and at the last tender port, Bay of Islands, in addition to the four on-ship tender bats they had hired two additional tenders to get us on shore. Well done RCI. It made the whole process much more enjoyable. Would I cruise on her again? In a heartbeat. I love her mid-size and overall ambience. I’m already booked on her post-refit cruise from Singapore to Brisbane in early November this year. I’m so looking to welcoming her to her new summer home port of Brisbane. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I am a Platinum Member with NCL and am struggling with what is wrong with them. I hope it was just the Epic, but I am not really sure as it may be fleet wide. This was the worst cruise I have ever experienced and it all centered around ... Read More
I am a Platinum Member with NCL and am struggling with what is wrong with them. I hope it was just the Epic, but I am not really sure as it may be fleet wide. This was the worst cruise I have ever experienced and it all centered around services paid for were not given and NO ONE at NCL was willing to address that they dropped the ball and fix the problem. We were traveling with NCL Air a day early to San Juan to the El Caribe Hilton. Which could've been great if I experienced it from more than a few hours of sleep. Due to weather we missed our connecting flight to San Juan, which was not NCL's fault. We had to arrive 12 hours late at 1am in the morning. I called NCL Air and the "Emergency" Help Line. Well NCL did not care. The Help line is only open during business hours Monday - Friday. Reread the last sentence and think what is wrong with that policy? I did get someone from NCL on the phone who argued with me about being picked up at the airport for the hotel. She said, "No way you can get picked up at 1am" - and "we don't pick up from the airport". I know from past experience both were incorrect, but she had NO clue. Surprise when we arrived at the airport someone was there to pick up someone for NCL just not us. This was rather upsetting considering how much we had paid for this service. WARNING - They roll everything into one package price so you can't get a refund on what they do not provide to you!! (This is what I come to understand) We Ubered to the hotel and found that the Hotel knew who I was, but had no information about the pickup and transport to the ship (in a few hours at 2am in the morning). Not even that a pickup would even occur. Our info on the letter from NCL said "we would be provided this information upon arrival at the hotel". We are still waiting? We called the Emergency number and guess what - CLOSED till 8am EST - 9am where we were. I called at that time and got a gentleman on the phone who still didn't understand the problem or seem to care. He did eventually call the transportation company and said someone will be there at 10:30am. So I went and found the lady in charge of transportation and guess what I was not on the list to be transported. Seems like NCL would've already check that? I had a boarding pass with all the fees paid but someone did not put us on the list so, no one knew to pick us up. (I assume it was NCL since they will not tell me otherwise) She guaranteed that she would've been there at 2am to pick us up but we were not on the list. I got a copy of the list to verify (which did no good. So we had to still Uber to the port and tried to deal with the issue for an entire 10 day cruise. Made 5 lengthy trips to the Hotel Desk and got a different response each time. Was told - "you didn't pay for it"; "The travel agent didn't pay for it", "Your boarding pass was incorrect" and 'finally we can't do anything on the ship because it happened on land". I was given a card to email NCL when home and guess what - received a form letter letting me know how many years of great service they have provided. Well guess what for 10 days they basically made my vacation a task of trying to find out WHAT I paid about $600 for? They were terrible at customer service. Ruined the whole 11 day vacation for me. NO ONE EVER SAID. "We are sorry, we made a mistake. What can we do to make things right. This could've solved everything on the 1st phone call to the Miami Office and on every encounter for well over 10 days. Unfortunately, I do already have the same services paid from on the Getaway in Europe in June. I am actually concerned now that I will be left at the airport in Rome again and no one from NCL will care and of course no help line on European time. I am in charge of that CC Meet and Mingle certainly would expect to be treated at least fairly or it will be a very interesting Meet and Mingle for sure. Due to this issue it was the worst cruise of our lives. Spent hours waiting in line and making phone calls and NEVER found anyone from NCL that actually cares. We have two more NCL cruises already booked, but seriously are considering changing to another line that will accept our Platinum Status and treat us fairly and with respect. One last shot in June - Then I can let you know. Sorry if this was boring to anyone. But if it were to happen to you, you would probably feel differently. Thanks, for reading. Caveat Emptor We did not see San Juan this time - due to the flight delay. Though it is a great port. All the other ports were good. We loved Bonaire - so glad we went sailing and snorkeling there. We really only went on the Epic this time due to the itinerary. It was not worth the trade off. Had constant problems two years ago on the Epic and spent a lot of time at the Hotel Desk then too. We have never complained about anything on ANY OTHER ship. Embarkation was done in a way to remove our Platinum Status. We were told in writing to not come prior to 1pm or we would be on the street waiting. So, surprise they were letting 1st time cruisers on the ship at 10:30. This was done on purpose. So what do we get for Platinum???.. A chance to have the Posh Deck sold out to first time cruisers is what. The EPIC is a very dark and dismal ship. The cabins have no storage at least our aft balcony did not. Did a cabin crawl and found that the Haven Cabin and Studios were wonderful. But in the other, there is no light in the aft cabin - you will need a flashlight if you want to shave or put on makeup. I think the interior rooms have more light. The weird Bathroom configuration is not a problem to us. The bed however, is not made for anyone taller than 5'10" - You can't pull it out from the wall in this room or you can't walk in front of it to get to the bathroom. You will have to sleep sideways. There was a problem with the phones on almost the whole ship were the message light flashed for the whole cruise. Everyone was asking for it to stop. They could not stop it. So you never new if you had a message as you always had a message and the way to turn off the flashing orange light was to cover with a towel. Dining in the Specialty Restaurants is very good except on the 2nd time in Le Bistro I had to sit on a bench that was worn out - The table was just below shoulder level. I told the manager and he either did not care or does not understand English. The 1st meal was great and with great service. The rest of the specialty restaurants were all 5 stars. Love Cagney's. The Taste has really POOR actually unacceptable service. We had to ask the manager to get the waitress to take our drink order for dinner. Breakfast will take you over an hour - don't order an Omelette they will tell you it will take even longer. The breakfast staff was pleasant, but it should not take 1 hour to sit and eat eggs and toast. Did this twice same time. The food is okay if you can get it. The Great Outdoors Area is great if it doesn't rain. If it does there is a mad dash inside and you will find NO Place to sit and eat if you can even get to the buffet. So breakfast on the Epic can and will be a problem. Found that a different days there was NO coffee 2 days and 1 day No coffee cups. I don't mean they had to go get some. There was NO Coffee cups available. When the coffee was out, it was out from two machines for all of breakfast. Oshean's is a good place to eat and we found it was much less crowded. Advice let the other stand and wait at Taste - go there. We enjoyed the Magician and the Juggler onboard. The comedy we saw was really not that funny, but it was okay. Priscilla is a walk out, a waste of time. They have the Beatles, But if you want to see them in the Cavern, you will have to camp out all day like a new Iphone is being released. There is NO ROOM in the CAVERN. They do perform a couple of times on the big stage. They are okay, but not a great cover band. The musicians that we witnessed around the ship seemed to always start late and take their breaks early. So there was a lot of silence in the bars and public areas. This was really not a good experience. Our room steward was excellent. The laundry was excellent. The bartenders at the Maltings Bar were as good as any on any ship. The bartenders at the Posh seemed to be hiding in the kitchen most of the time. At times if there is inclement weather you will find that they will not open up bars below on the ship. You will just be out of luck. Disembarkation was actually very good. I would not take this cruise on the EPIC for any price ever again. I WILL NOT SAIL ON THIS DISMAL, POORLY RUN SHIP EVER AGAIN. Though the itinerary was awesome, you should at least have great service and get what you pay for! It is easy to provide customer service when everything is going well, however on this ship, when something went very wrong - NO ONE WAS WILLING TO DEAL WITH IT. Vacations are times to rest, not to try to get what you have paid for the entire vacation and even weeks after. I am extremely displeased with how we were treated. Caveat Emptor - Beware - you take this ship, but sail at your own risk as there will be little to no help if they screw up your vacation!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I have been on 4 cruises total so can only compare to the other NCL experiences I have had. I had spent 2 days in San Juan before the cruise. This cruise left at 9:00pm. EMBARKATION - This was probably the best experience I have ever ... Read More
I have been on 4 cruises total so can only compare to the other NCL experiences I have had. I had spent 2 days in San Juan before the cruise. This cruise left at 9:00pm. EMBARKATION - This was probably the best experience I have ever had cruising. A group of four of us showed up at noon even though our embarkation time was 3:30p. we were all on the ship within 15 minutes. We quickly made our way to the pool deck and grabbed a drink and some cookies. We all quickly checked out our cabins (though they were not all ready) and then just relaxed until they let us go to the cabins. SERVICE - For the most part, service on this trip was just so so. There was nobody that really went out of their way to make this trip special for any of the people I cruised with. My cabin steward did his job, but he didn't do anything special. Wait staff seemed more robotic than personable. The casino staff for the most part seemed like they were just waiting until they could close their tables. DINING - I was very disappointed by the food. My other NCL cruises had higher quality food. Even the specialty places were just okay. When the Creme Brulee is just so so there needs to be something done. The wait staff was very poor and again did little but bring the food. ENTERTAINMENT - I went to Burn the Floor. That was an outstanding show. I went to a comedy show in the club and wanted to walk out. It was an hour of listening to two guys complain about being black. The comedy show in the theater was much better. While it had one of the comedians from the walkout show, his act was completely different and actually funny. It had two other comedians that were very funny as well. PORTS & EXCURSIONS - I did 2 NCL excursions. Both were very good excursions and I enjoyed them both. Ziplining on Tortola and Snorkeling with Sea Turtles in Barbados. SHIP & CABIN - The ship was clean for the most part. We didn't have any breakdowns. Elevators all seemed to be working (although were always full). I had a Mini-Suite. Like most people have said, the curved bed was short and my feet hung over the end. The balcony was big and I enjoyed evenings on it while listening to the water. CONCLUSION - All in all it was nice, but not great. Those that I cruised with are what made this a great cruise not the ship or crew. Would I go on this ship again? It would not be the first choice of ship, but I would not shy away from it if the itinerary was one I wanted to go on. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This cruise was a four-night trip on the Carnival Inspiration, round trip from Long Beach, visiting Catalina Island and Ensenada. This was my 16th cruise lifetime, and 4th on Carnival. My most recent cruises were on Princess; my last ... Read More
This cruise was a four-night trip on the Carnival Inspiration, round trip from Long Beach, visiting Catalina Island and Ensenada. This was my 16th cruise lifetime, and 4th on Carnival. My most recent cruises were on Princess; my last cruise on Carnival was about two years ago. This was my first cruise as a solo (divorced) traveler. I picked this trip simply because the timing worked out, and the price was right. Even having to pay double occupancy fare, with taxes, port fees and gratuities prepaid it came to under $500. I arrived early on Monday morning at the pier at 10:30am. My boarding pass showed I was in boarding group A3 and has a check-in time of 12:30pm. The parking garage is incredibly convenient, being right next to the terminal building. Part of it is currently under construction for expansion, but I had no problem finding a spot, and ended up on the ramp between the 1st and 2nd floors, right near the exit. Incidentally, this location charges $23 per night for parking. There were several porters sitting around by the curb at the edge of the garage, but I couldn’t immediately tell if they were bringing luggage out for people leaving or picking up new luggage. So I walked past them before being directed back by the friendly Carnival staff at the crosswalk. At the terminal building there was no one waiting, and the staff welcomed me to come inside and “get the process started”. They have three lines at the entrance – one for priority and FTTF, one for people arriving at their check-in time, and one for people arriving early. It didn’t matter though, since again no one was there. So I walked into the terminal at 10:42am and was through security at 10:45. Then I had nothing to do but wait inside the large domed building on their cushy bench seats. They started calling priority and FTTF boarding at 11:13am. Since there was still not that many people there, they continued by calling groups A1 and A2 at 11:14, followed by group A3 at 11:15. So the folks who purchased FTTF, for which one of the perks is earlier boarding, got on a whole two minutes earlier than me. After walking a long distance through an inclined ramp that went around and around, I made it to the upstairs check point at 11:18 and was on board at 11:21. (Rooms are announced as being not available until 1:30, and the doors to staterooms corridors are all closed at this point). I had lunch at Guy’s Burger Joint, which is the first opportunity I’ve had to try this. It was actually a pretty decent burger, and they give you a small side of fries on the side. They have a pretty expansive condiment bar, with sauces and toppings such as bacon and mushrooms. Also on the pool deck is the Blue Iguana Cantina, offering street tacos, burritos, and taco salad bowls. They’re only open for breakfast and lunch, closing at 3:30pm (2:30pm on the last day at sea). Guy’s is open Noon-6:00pm. Incidentally, the Cantina also has an expansive salsa bar, so you can dress up your tacos any way you like. I was surprised that for burritos, the only tortilla offerings they had were wheat or jalapeno. They have two self serve beer kiosks on the Lido deck, one between Guy’s and the Cantina and one inside the buffet area, where you swipe your card and pour your own beer and it charges by the ounce ($.37/oz). I tried the one outside once – it coughed and sputtered up foam. And the resulting ounce of liquid I ended up with did not taste like the Dos Equus it claimed to be. Fortunately I did not incur a charge for this; I guess the machine knows when it’s not working. And even more fortunately, they have the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and the more popular Red Frog Rum Bar, both of which feature their own menu of cocktails, and daily featured drinks for $1 off. I like how Carnival has its self-serve beverage station set up, out at the Lido deck near the pool, with machine dispensers for coffee, hot water for tea, and cocoa as well as water and lemonade all day (and other juices at breakfast times). It’s nice being out in the open with room to move around it. It’s so much more…user friendly then how things are setup on Princess. And I love having instant access to cocoa all day long. Except – the machine is a one-touch button that pre-fills the mug a specific amount. And that amount is 60% full. So you have to press it again and pull your cup out before it overflows, allowing the rest to pour down the drain. For some reason they had a person dressed up as Mr. Potato Head, taking pictures with people on the Lido deck on embarkation day. Still haven’t figured out why. Muster was call 25 minutes late according to the posted schedule, at 3:55pm. As is the norm these days, no need to bring a life jacket to muster. I was in the Paris theatre, and was impressed that the captain came to our muster station to talk, accompanied by the chief engineer and hotel director. I’ve never seen the high brass at muster before. I had Your-Time dining this trip, which was the first time on any line that I’ve done this. I’ve almost always done traditional early dining before. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Your Time dining worked. I arrived the first night at 5:55pm (it opened at 5:45), and was seated right away at my own table. There wasn’t even a line to get in really, just a few people. They pull your room number at the front, which gives your waiter your name; it is a nice touch when they address you by name. My waiter this night was Julio, and it was his first night onboard too (he previously was on the Fascination). Nice guy, but this would be the only night I saw him. I started with the poblano and corn soup, which frankly was amazingly flavorful with just a bit of spiciness. I then had the lasagna, which looked good but was overly beefy and under-seasoned, nor was I a fan of the creamy white cheese they use. But it was still pretty good. And of course I had the chocolate melting cake for dessert. It’s basically like an undercooked brownie-cake with a side of vanilla ice cream. Sooo good. I left at 6:55 and noted that there was still no line outside. My dining each subsequent night went pretty much the same, and all of the food was enjoyable. I noted at one point on the first night that a pop version of My Heart Will Go On (from the movie Titanic) was playing on the speakers. Why do they play this on cruise ships?? ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment onboard was pretty good. I should mention that I never had issue getting seating at any show, early or late shows, whether I showed up 5 minutes early or 20 minutes early. Seating just wasn’t an issue here. The stage shows were…okay. Studio VIP and Motor City. You can tell the cast has some talent, although if I were to be nitpicky I’d say they’ve gotten a little lazy on the choreography. Just not a lot of attention to detail in uniformity. But my big problem is the design of the shows, which I just don’t find to be well written with a good flow to engage audiences. I’ve found the shows on Princess to be written much better, and on Princess they have a live orchestra that really adds to the experience. Where Carnival really excels is in their Punchliner Comedy Club. With two comedians on board and 2-4 shows nightly ranging from PG to explicit, there’s a lot of offerings. They blow Princess out of the water here. It’s among the best in comedy shows I’ve seen anywhere, on land or sea. Andre was a great host and has some talent of his own, and in particularly the comic Douglas Williams was fantastic. I also really enjoyed the Piano Bar, which is in a little lounge in a separate room off the atrium. Michael has great personality for this venue, and he’s quite talented. I also attended the Love and Marriage show, hosted by CD Ryan Rose, which was incredibly funny and well run. And that coming from a single, divorced guy. Incidentally, the CD on this trip w did a great job and was all over the ship. PORTS We had tender service in Catalina, and honestly it was the smoothest and easiest tendering I’ve ever done. No tender tickets needed. Just show up and go. Assuming you can figure out where to show up – they are not very good about posting anywhere where you’re supposed to go. It’s not in the FunTimes or on the Hub app. There’s no signs in the stair/elevator landings. I think they made an announcement, but I was in my stateroom and couldn’t hear it. Anyways, tender service was scheduled to begin at 7:45; I headed down at 8am. I basically kept going down as far as I could, wandering eventually to deck 4, where the signs say “Medical Center”. And that’s where you go, apparently. But I walked right on the tender, no waiting, and we were soon underway. Golf cart rentals in Catalina are $50 an hour, btw. It’s been a few years since I was here and I don’t remember them being quite that high. But I walked around on my own, first along the waterfront before heading up the hill to the Wrigley Botanical Gardens (admisson $8 general, $6 senior). They have a nice collection of cacti as well as plants such as aloe and agave, and a variety of small trees such as shrub oak. The old stone monument, built in 1933, offers some nice views down to the bay. I also did the Garden to Sky Summit trail, which goes up to the top of the hill offering even more fantastic views around the island. Ensenada was the next day; we docked in at 7:35am. Once again I found my way down to deck 4 and walked right off. I can tell Ensenada has been working on improvements over the last decade. They’ve improved their waterfront walk and added in fountains (which didn’t operate until the afternoon). It seems like there were less people around the pier area trying to hawk stuff. Though downtown, you still see a lot of this. I had lunch at a colorful little street café, and got approached every few minutes by 5-year old girls trying to sell trinkets. As well as groups of older men with instruments trying to play you a song. I was offered several massages with happy endings out on the street, along with all manner of pharmaceuticals and typical trinkets that are mostly identical in every shop you come to. I did visit the science museum just off the pier, which is a huge new building, of which only about 10% is finished and running. But for $3 you can visit a room with displays and videos about endemic plants and animals on the various islands around the Baja peninsula. On our last day at sea before returning home, I went to the Sea Day Brunch that is apparently a popular thing to do. I arrived at 8:30, which was the opening time, and the line stretched out of the Mardi Gras dining room and halfway around the atrium. And this was despite having competition with the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast going on at the same time in the Carnivale Dining Room. This was the longest I waited the entire trip to be seated for dining – and it still only took 6 minutes. Of course with the initial opening, service was a bit slow, and it took over a half hour to get served any food. But it was still good, and I recommend it. I had the eggs benedict and a blueberry muffin (served warm), along with a side of “brunch potatoes”. As far as dining goes, I should note that lunch is never available in the MDR’s. I often enjoyed this on Princess, especially on embarkation day. But it’s not offered on Carnival, or at least this ship. For cooked meats – they give you two options: medium rare or medium well. Getting drinks on the ship was never a problem, as I found servers to be plentiful anywhere I was. And the staff in general was great ship-wide, always friendly and seemingly glad that you are there. I should also note that this ship has the waterworks slides, as well as a 9-hole mini golf course area that also has a foosball table and two pool tables (not that the balls ever stay put much on a moving ship). And there’s one ping-pong table, midship deck 11, port side. Well eventually you have to go home. On disembarkation day the full breakfast buffet opens early, at 6:30am (instead of the normal 7am – on Princess incidentally they always open at 6am). The disembarkation process is more streamlined than on Princess, where they have you wait in a lounge somewhere while they call through dozens of different groups. Here on this Carnival ship anyway, they just call by deck starting at 7:30. You have to be vacated from your room by 8:30, and everyone is supposed to be off the ship by 9:30. I didn’t wait that long, as I hate long good-byes. I noted that a line started forming around the Deck 7 atrium just before 7am, which is when they allow those off who have priority or who are carrying their own luggage. I didn’t head up myself till about 7:08, and by then there were only a dozen or so in line. I made it off the ship and down to security in 10 minutes, and breezed through security in about 30 seconds. In summary, the Carnival Inspiration is an older ship but with recent renovations to give it some of the amenities you’d expect on newer vessels. It’s well maintained enough that it’s easy to forget its age, and the crew is by and large friendly, helpful, and energetic, displaying great pride in their work. Although it’s just a short 4-day voyage, and they don’t offer really any enrichment type classes on the places you’re visiting, it’s a nice little vacation getaway. 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Sail Date January 2020
In comparison to previous cruises I’ve taken I have never seen people board/disembark at every port. This created lots of confusion throughout the cruise and during this period you were not allowed to purchase food or snacks during the ... Read More
In comparison to previous cruises I’ve taken I have never seen people board/disembark at every port. This created lots of confusion throughout the cruise and during this period you were not allowed to purchase food or snacks during the safety drill that occurred everyday with the exception of one sea day. I was in a party of 12 with 4 of them being first time cruisers. I respect all cultures but this was the worst experience ever. The Europeans are VERY RUDE cut in front of you in lines and while waiting for the elevators. Very few crew members spoke English. We were promised certain packages that were never given to us and showed on our bill. When we tried.to discuss the issues no one understood us. The food was terrible from the lobster being soggy to the steak being tuff and limited salad dressing or the creamy salad dressing was like milk/water consistency. You will not get anything related to American food on this ship. You ask for a slice of cake you will get pudding. Other than the room attendant and the bartender and a few guys cooking in the Japanese restaurant the overall service was terrible. We had one tour guide lady that had terrible English and the English speaking people in our group had to keep asking for clarification on the information being shared. My group was so offended by one show they had with white/Europeans with huge Afro wigs, pampers and black Charcoal on their backs. We were unable to get the story of the show but it was very disappointed to see something like this on stage. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was my 3rd cruise on the NCL Jewel and it did not disappoint. I am a solo traveler and NCL is the best for solos. I always get an oceanview cabin on deck 5 midship. So comfortable and close to mid and forward elevators always ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise on the NCL Jewel and it did not disappoint. I am a solo traveler and NCL is the best for solos. I always get an oceanview cabin on deck 5 midship. So comfortable and close to mid and forward elevators always quiet. Our solo activity leader was awesome making dinners for the group getting group seat at the shows and making sure we all had a good time. The activities were excellent and my favorite is the dance lessons. They do lack a bit in Enrichment activities The pool and hot tubs were warm. Loved the ports and going thru the sounds perfect itinerary to see New Zealand. Food was excellent at all venues but Cagney's had to be the best love the truffle mash potatoes. The shows were really good and I especially enjoyed the Cirque show its not to be missed Awesome crew and room steward. NCL shore excursions are pricey so I looked into private ones which I highly recommend doing. The private ones are small groups normally and much more interesting then NCL excursions. Several ports I just went around on my own after researching and many were easy to walk around. Embarkation was the fastest I have ever experienced in 9 cruises with NCL and so easy. Disembarkation was well run and smooth. I would go again in a heartbeat and look forward to being on the Jewel again. I enjoy the NCL cruises so much as a solo I have 2 more booked Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Shout out to Terri (DT) and Julian who did an amazing job. NCL arranged transportation. You meet them in the baggage claim area and wait for bus that takes you to port. Check in was (despite reviews I had read) was very organized ... Read More
Shout out to Terri (DT) and Julian who did an amazing job. NCL arranged transportation. You meet them in the baggage claim area and wait for bus that takes you to port. Check in was (despite reviews I had read) was very organized and quick. From drop off to on the ship was 30 minutes. Cruise staff, entertainment, and food were all great. Ship is large and easy to find your way. Good cruise for solo travelers as there are plenty of outgoing people. Observation Deck on 15 was a great place to unwind at the end of the day, have a cup of tea, and meet people or read a book. Sign up for meals and entertainment prior to boarding the ship. Free style was great if you had those reservations. Staff in The Local were always organized, friendly and helpful. The TASTE was much more organized that The Savor. Manhattan was good too. Helpful hint--don't wait for your tag color to be called at the end of the cruise or you will, as did many people, miss you flight. Clearance was given about an hour behind schedule and If I had waited I would not have made a 2pm flight. Also, it is worth getting your bag and asking for the porter to take you in a separate line and you clear re-entry very quickly. Overall, the ship staff was amazing, friendly, interactive. The ship was clean and they made efforts to maintain hygiene. I would take the cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Starting off on a positive note, it is evident the culture on this ship is focused around excellent service. Somewhere between 95-99% of the staff is incredible at their job. The cabin I stayed in seemed very reasonable, although the walls ... Read More
Starting off on a positive note, it is evident the culture on this ship is focused around excellent service. Somewhere between 95-99% of the staff is incredible at their job. The cabin I stayed in seemed very reasonable, although the walls in(I think) all the cabins are very thin and a nightmare for light sleepers. The majority of the food I ate ranged from good to great quality. There’s a lot of tasty meals and snacks to be had. The on board entertainment was also a big highlight, there is plenty to do. Now one of my big cons comes in the form of organization. The ship was to leave at 3:30pm. We left at 6:30pm. It seemed the embarkation and debarkation was a you-know-what show. The onshore excursions were very unorganized. Our time would got cut every time and things listed to be on the package, weren’t. I was let down on all three locations. I’ll give you an example, we went to the Dolphinaris excursion in Cozumel (unlimited food and drink dolphin encounter or something of that nature), the gentlemen told us from the jump on the Pier that our excursion wasn’t ready, we waited, we waited, we signed a form, we handed in our ticket, we waited, we walked, and right before we got on the taxis they started to give us back our tickets to sign? Why didn’t we do that immediately? We lost so much time. Even if carnival has no control over this, they shouldn’t be handing us over to these clowns. Additionally, half the activities on this excursion got axed for slightly rough water. No kind of reimbursement. Onto me getting trapped in an elevator with a woman having a panic attack. On the night after leaving Cozumel, we were hitting some rough waves and I got stuck in an elevator on the NINTH floor, Carolina in guest services didn’t seem to care and suggested it wasn’t a big deal because I was only having 90 feet above the ground level for thirty minutes. Big ups to Carolina. Now with all this said, thanks to my loved ones and the convenience of the onboard activities/food, I had fun. But the Glory needs to address some of these problems going forward. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Like many onboard, we booked this cruise because of the ridiculously low price for a 5 day trip. 1. We flew into the area and stayed at the Ramada by the cruise port the night before embarkation, a pretty good option since they have a ... Read More
Like many onboard, we booked this cruise because of the ridiculously low price for a 5 day trip. 1. We flew into the area and stayed at the Ramada by the cruise port the night before embarkation, a pretty good option since they have a great indoor pool and they are close to the port. Shuttle was $10 pp, so we decided to take a Lyft to the ship for $14 instead. 2. Embarkation was a nightmare and the worst part of the cruise. Not the ship's fault, but security was letting 20 people at a time in the building for check-in and the line outside (in the heat and sun) was 1 1/2 hours long. The bottleneck was the escalator to the check-in area and security held up the line forever for no good reason. Once we made it to the MSC controlled space, we were through in less than 10 minutes. They were very apologetic, but there was nothing different they could have done. 3. Since we were late boarding, our cabin was ready and that was a blessing in that we could drop off our bags and head to the buffet for something to eat. By now, it's 3:30pm, and the drill is at 4:15, so grab a plate and fill it before food service was shut down. Not really a problem, but then we had to hurry back to the cabin to get our life jackets (not expecting that) and make our way to our station. Drill was typical but included donning the jackets which took a little longer. Still not a big deal. 4. Cabin. We booked 12259, outside starboard side. It was spacious enough, with the usual balcony including 2 chairs and a small table. More than sufficient for our needs, and an enjoyable place to spend sea days and some port time. We could have used a few more shelves, but for 5 days it was perfect for our needs. The shower is a little strange. It's like a plexiglass clamshell, with both sides opening out for pretty easy entry, but the one door opened onto the toilet and could present a real problem for someone with balance or mobility issues. I doubt it would shatter, but you could slam that door into the toilet and cause some damage to the shower, and to the occupant. There was shampoo and body wash (biodegradable) in the shower, and both were pleasant to use. The bed was relatively hard, but that's my preference, and the king configuration had no sign of the usual crack between the mattresses! All in all, one of the more comfortable I have occupied. We had a pull-out sofa in the room, which was nice for sitting in the morning and evening, although we didn't use the bed itself. There is a refrigerator that is a decent size. We were able to put in a few things without removing the pricey items inside. Our cabin was about as far aft as you could go, and that was convenient to the dining room, but a 1,000 foot walk to the theater. The exercise was well received! Our cabin steward, Be, yes that's his name, was one of the best we have ever had. I never saw him without a smile and a laugh, and he kept the cabin pristine. We had a few conversations and a discussion about his home on Madagascar. He really added to our enjoyment on the trip. 5. Dining. We were assigned to early seating at the Black Crab. Dinner was at 6pm, and didn't really interfere with our port times, since it was dark by then. We had a table for 6 and were blessed with great table mates. Dinner was generally exceptional, with at least one miss. The grouper, tornedos of beef, parmesan were all restaurant quality and really enjoyable. There were some strange sides (whole roasted okra?) but in general as good as we found on the other major lines. I did have a bad meal one evening, but they swapped it out for the NY strip and that was fine. We generally ate in the dining room for lunch if it was open, and the food was some of the best on the cruise. We had the buffet on embarkation day and on both port days, and it was a typical shipboard buffet. The pizza was excellent, and there was ethnic (Indian) food at one station. Generally the pasta was good, but the food was better in the dining room. I also ate breakfast in the dining room most morning while the queen slept in, and it was very good. I heard people commenting about the zoo in the buffet, so it was nice to sit in a quiet environment with fresh, hot food and converse with other early risers. Quality was very good. 6. Specialty restaurant. We ate one meal (complimentary) in the steak house. It was very much like a high-end ala carte steakhouse experience on land. We both had the filet, which was well prepared and delicious, but the meal included only 1 side and a dessert. A salad would have been nice, but we didn't feel it was worth the price. However, the dessert made up for it! We both had the chocolate molten cake and it was very close to the best thing I have ever eaten in my life! Moist chocolate cake with a volcano of dark fudge erupting from the center alongside a large scoop of vanilla bean ice cream! In retrospect, we should have made reservations again just for the dessert! The fixed board meal is $47 per person and includes the side and dessert. No additional tips required, but drinks and other sides are not included and are a little expensive. We did get a bottle of Pelligrino to start the meal however. I think this is on a par with other cruise lines, but we still have a problem spending $100 when the food in the dining room is this good. 7. Entertainment. There was a production show every night of the cruise. This was a total surprise, but we didn't really miss the usual assortment of magicians, jugglers and comedians. The quality of the shows was 5 stars. Sometimes there was very little story in them, but the dancing, singing, costumes and general choreography were amazing! There were a lot of acrobatics in the shows, and some were Cirque quality. The energy level was off the charts and they were able to bring in audience participation at every show. We never missed one, and thoroughly enjoyed each and every performance and performer. On Italian night we were treated to the lead singers and they added an amazing tenor and contra-soprano that brought the house down. On our previous sailings with MSC, the entertainment was generally excellent, but this was a whole new level of quality and represented the best of our 75+ cruises. 8. The Divina. We were concerned that this was an 8 year old ship, but we shouldn't have been. She is beautiful and well laid out. The public spaces are extraordinary, and the pool areas really beautiful. Never a problem finding a deck chair or a bartender. They show movies on the deck and the screen is huge and bright and the sound system is stadium quality. The dining areas are beautiful and well-appointed, although a little tight getting around tables at meal time. I would never have guessed her age, and the level of maintenance was better than most cruises we have experienced. Casino, shopping and public areas were well designed and maintained, giving a level of luxury to the ship. We would not hesitate to sail on her again, and are now considering booking on one of the new mega-ships. 9. The crew. Our cruise director, whose name escapes me for some reason, was very professional and qualified. I called her the German Amazon - she was tall and liked to pile her hair up! I have no idea how many languages she spoke, but they were all accentless as far as I could tell. Every staff member we met was courteous and friendly, and as usual the dining room staff was exceptional. I've already mentioned our cabin steward, but I was greeted warmly by every other steward I passed in the hall. The captain was extremely approachable and we had a number of one-on-one conversations with him. His English was excellent, and he also speaks 6 languages - 5 fluently. He is from Sorrento, and we had a nice conversation about a little town an hour from there where we both had vacationed! Talk about a small world. Although the crew was the usual foreign mix and the officers were from all over, English was spoken by everyone and communication was never a problem. I would also rate the crew at 5 stars. 10. Ports. We only had 2 stops, Costa Maya and Ocean Cay. Costa Maya is a typical cruise built port with the ubiquitous shops, restaurants and bars. There are nice beaches here, but it's not really Mexico, but a cruise-themed version of it. Not our favorite port, but certainly not the worst either. Ocean Cay. We were the third MSC ship to dock at Ocean Cay, and there is still quite a bit of construction going on, although it did not impact our enjoyment of the island. There are a number of beaches, including a private one for Yacht Club passengers, and a family beach that seemed to attract the kiddos. We found a nice quiet area for ourselves, and had pre-rented an umbrella for $10 that was plenty big for the 2 of us. They had spaced "food trucks" around the island that served burgers, hot dogs and pasta salad. There were 3 I believe and all had the same menu. There was also a large buffet area in the center of the island with plenty of seating. The food was typical buffet, but cooked on the ship and brought ashore, so it did affect the quality and temperature of the offerings. The worst food of the cruise, but you could have walked back on to the ship for food at any time, so a small issue. Lots of bars, same prices as the ship and drink packages worked here also. The beach was white sand and beautiful. The water was crystal clear and Caribbean Blue, and 4 feet deep from the shore to the sand bar - at which point it dropped to 12 feet. That allowed for a lot of different water activities, and people were taking advantage of it. Most of the beaches surrounded a lagoon, and there was snorkeling off the ocean side with some small coral reefs available. We really enjoyed the stop here and MSC had done a great job of creating their own tropical paradise. 11. Passengers. I don't have an actual count, but I would guess the mix of passengers to be about 50% Americans, with a large mix of South American / Hispanic and a smaller number of Europeans. You definitely heard a lot of Spanish, but MSC is popular with a European crowd and the number of people who flew in for a 5 day cruise was amazing! I assume they spent time in Florida also, but we met a number of folks who were there just for the Divina. There were approximately 100 pre-school aged children on the ship. Most were in the camps and we never really saw much of them. They would arrive for the shows and watch politely and then march out together afterward. One evening we had a pre-show of the kids singing for about 15 minutes, and it was delightful! The camp counselors were in costume almost every time we saw them and the kids seemed to be having a great time. 12. Weather. We had really good weather most of the trip. There was some rain in Costa Maya, but generally lots of sun and warm temps - highs in the upper 70's and low 80's. Generally the seas were mild, although 2 of our dinner mates complained of movement. We never really felt anything, except walking down the corridor on occasion, and none of the shows were impacted. 13. Disembarkation. Here we go again. We were actually called for disembarkation at the exact time indicated on the colored luggage tags. Luggage had to be out by 2AM, and was gone by the time we went to breakfast at7. We left for the gangway on schedule, got off the ship, then entered the terminal under the control of the port again. A nightmare. Again, they were letting 20 people at a time go down to the customs/baggage area and the line in the corridor was 2 hours long. No reason for this. For some reason an officer took pity on us (we were at the end of the line) and escorted us to the elevator and straight down to baggage! I don't know why, but I would have married her if I wasn't already spoken for! We expected a crowd in baggage, but there was hardly anyone there! I have no idea why they limited the lines to the escalator. Anticipating and easy trip through the Global Entry kiosks, we were dismayed to find there were none. There were also 5 border agents processing 4,000 passports at the end of the queue. This is the worst process by a port we have ever encountered. It would give me serious pause about every sailing out of Miami again. 14. Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle. Since this is a CC review, I feel it incumbent on me to describe the M&M. We have been to a lot of them, and usually they are ok, but a little disorganized with a smattering of crew (usually the cruise director and some staff) and a few snacks and beverages in a too-small venue. We still go, but about 1/2 of them have been disappointing. MSC is trying to build business and sees CC as a major part of this strategy. We were placed into one of the largest lounges on the ship, there was a CC cake baked especially for the occasion, and every single staff officer was there - including the captain! Hors d'oeuvres were excellent and a variety of drinks prepared at the bar were available. Introductions were made and then the captain made an attempt to engage with every person in the room. More than that, he was very interested in our opinion of the ship, our previous sailings with both MSC and other lines, and actually took notes of our comments. I have to say it was the best M&M I have ever attended, and I strongly suggest all of my fellow CC members do so also! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020

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